Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Woodchester and the fate of the Poor Clares

Woodchester Priory
The Holy Biretta

On a day out recently I went with a few others to Woodchester. There I found this rather lovely carving on the south porch of Woodchester Priory Church, dedicated to the Annunciation. How wonderful to see a biretta on display! A few years ago I would have to now start explaining what a biretta is, but how things change! In my little church in St George’s in Warminster (which is mine for about five more days) I wear the holy biretta at all Masses, in both forms. So everyone knows what a biretta is nowadays! The Church used to be a Dominican Priory until eventually they pulled out in the 1960s.

This is a post card of it in its heyday. You can see the east end of the Church on the left. Everything else was demolished in the 1970s. It is a terrible loss of a fine building. There is a good history of the Church here

One recent sadness of Woodchester is when the Poor Clares left just this year. I’ll put up a few pictures from the convent soon, but the Poor Clares were brought to mind in the Priory Church. The bones of the dead sisters have been dug up and reinterred in the Church graveyard. This makes me ever so sad. They do not even have their own graves. I know that they are just mortal remains, and that the poor sisters were probably so humble that they would not have minded, but we have an obligation to honour the women who gave their lives to the service of prayer in the Church. I just don’t really think it is fitting.

Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.
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